Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Big fine for river polluters

April 1, 2009

THE Department of Environment will slap a big fine next month against those caught polluting Penang’s Sungai Pinang, one of the sixth most polluted rivers in the country.

State Health, Welfare, Caring and Environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh declined to reveal the amount, saying it had not been finalised yet.

He warned polluters to think twice about committing the offence again.

“We have a list of car workshops, petrol stations and factories that discharge effluents directly into the river.

“The biggest polluter is a slaughter house,” he said when contac-ted yesterday.

Phee stressed that imposing of the fine would only be done as a last resort.

“For the whole of this month, we will spread awareness on the effects of pollution, educating the public and warning people not to throw things into the river,” he said.

He said the state government would soon meet up with owners of factories along the river bank.

“We will also talk to the people including residents to stop dum-ping discards into the river.

“They have to know that they’re the ones to be imme- diately affected by the stench and flash floods when it rains heavily,” he said.

He said the authorities would ask the slaughter house operator to work with Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd to reduce discharge into the river.

Phee said he had asked the Penang Municipal Council to use the Effective Microorganism (EM) solutions to treat the sludge inside the mud instead of merely using surface treatment.

“We’ll also increase the number of rubbish bins to enable residents to throw their trash in appropriate places.

“The river has such potential that it can be transformed into an eco-tourism spot where people can canoe and enjoy a walk along it,” he said.

Phee said the state would carry out the River Rangers programme in primary and secondary schools to educate children on pollution- related issues.

“The programme will train children to be the eyes and ears on river conditions and report them to the authority. They can also play an influential role in their families.

“We’ve received clearance from the Education Ministry and we’ll start working with the state Education Department on the programme immediately,” he said.

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